“It was a meditation on life, love, old age, death: ideas that had often fluttered around her head like nocturnal birds but dissolved into a trickle of feathers when she tried to catch hold of them.” ― Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
"Can you spare....a square??????" Elaine from Seinfeld
I - as many other folks who are in charge of public gatherings whether it be a town hall or school or church or theatre or whatever - want to do the responsible thing. And we go by the guidelines of the CDC and health departments. We are guided by common sense and new catch phrases such as "flattening the curve". We want a sense of normalcy and routine but this is something unlike anything we have encountered in our life time.
Others want to compare it to the Swine Flu or some other flu-like epidemic, but statistics show it's not. It's just not.
Now I am not expert on this pandemic.. this Covid 19. I know as much as anyone else who watches the press conferences from government officials or reads the threads online (which can vary depending upon perspectives to be quite honest). Does one panic? Does one quarantine their family? Does one empty the shelves of toilet paper, sanitary wipes, and hand sanitizer? Washing your hands and covering your sneezes/coughs should always be the norm. But this is the new normal.
As I sit in my empty classroom preparing for a week long of online learning, I stare at the desks without students and the usual morning sounds of slamming lockers, latest middle school gossip, and bells ringing ushering students to homeroom. The morning announcements with the latest opening slide "Today is National Chocolate Donut with Sprinkles Day" or whatever. And it makes me wonder about a lot of things....
When we have to quarantine, isolate, and face the possibility that millions will be infected and potentially hundreds of thousands will die, I wonder if what I exert my energy towards makes or has made a difference in anyone's life or in the world. At all.
I have reflected on this a lot even before this pandemic. Perhaps it is just time marching on and my age that causes me to have these thoughts.
I was talking to a friend about it recently. And as I looked at the people who had gathered for our writer's group and looked at the faces I had never known until the group began and how much affection I have gained for these folks and am so grateful to have the honor to know them and see them on a regular basis and think perhaps we have built a community or enhanced the community or made connections between strangers and helped broaden a perspective of another person by meeting someone whose viewpoint is different than one's own. I mean isn't this our mission and vision? A place where all are welcomed? To build bridges not burn them?
I would like to think that this matters. I would like to think that the sacrifices we make towards this art matters. I know that the hours and time spent away from home and the phone calls I don't make or the texts I am late in replying to or the shows I don't get to see because I am at the theatre....matters.
Robert Frost said that taking the road less traveled made all the difference and Elphaba and Glinda sing Because I Knew You (I have been changed for good). I just hope and pray (yes I pray!) that because of this thing that we do, that you have been changed for good. I would like to think I have been. But if not.... forgive me. Forgive me for not replying sooner or extending an act of kindness because I was too tired or I didn't say thank you enough. Because I wish I had; I wanted to. But the road to hell is paved.... well you know.
So does canceling shows demonstrate an act of love? Does moving forward trying to entertain and give people a place to commune demonstrate an act of love? Am I being irresponsible with the people who trust me to make good and correct decisions? Is providing hand sanitizer, bleaching toilets, wearing gloves, and wiping down seats enough? Honestly, I don't know. It's a minute by minute decision and one I think everyone needs to make for themselves.
So yes, as Gabe said about meditations on life, love, old age, death.... these are not new ideas (to me anyway and I would argue to many of you). But these times put them into sharp focus. And I would like to think that we love, we demonstrate love, and continue to love. In times. Such as these. Whatever that looks like.
So... Stay well. Stay tuned. And Stay Connected.
Peace friends. Joanie